Knights Profile: Coach Souders


Photo courtesy Calvin SID

The head coach of Calvin men’s soccer, Ryan Souders, has a rich history of working with soccer professionals and is admittedly passionate about the Calvin mission for Christian liberal arts. If you know him at all, you know he will greet you with a warm welcome and ask how things are going, so here’s a tidbit on how things have gone for him.

Coach Souders graduated from Wheaton in 2007 and since has had two other coaching experiences along with some professional experience in the USL PRO league as a goalkeeper and front office worker. In order to come to Grand Rapids, he left his position at Davidson, a NCAA D1 program.

“People said, ‘what are you doing [leaving a D1]?’ but I really believe in the mission and vision here at Calvin. [A Christian liberal arts college] was my choice for education … and ultimately it is that — to aid in the shaping of young Christian men to be better husbands, fathers, employees and Christ followers — which brought me here.”

Many things have stuck with Souders throughout his career. Relationships with teammates and athletes he trained with are some of his favorite memories. Coach Souders listed Logan Pause, Mark Bloom and Clint Irwin, all of Major League Soccer (MLS), as some of the more recognizable players he is close with. He also said he played against the likes of Michael Bradley and Brad Guzan at an early stage.

Here on campus, some people might notice the coach and the team walking around sporting team jackets and nice gear. Souders acknowledged it is fun and part of soccer culture, but says it might also be blown out of proportion:

“I think it is about professionalism. We want to train professionally, take care of our bodies professionally, we want to perform professionally and part of that is looking professional.  Gear is a facet; one part of many things we want to do well here.”

Watching professionals play is also something Souders enjoys. He says having more access to the English Premier League is great, but it is really cool to see the growth of our own product in Major League Soccer.

“Part of the growth of MLS comes from the fact that we respect our own league now.”

He also has a respect for the MIAA and D3 athletics. In his opinion, Calvin offers the better opportunities to pursue a “sound academic experience at a phenomenal Christian school” while also having a shot at the national title. He added:

“At the end of the day, we are trying to recruit the same guys [as D1].”

In his closing remarks, Souders expressed his gratitude for the Calvin community and their support for him and the members of the soccer program.  He is pleased to see the support at home games, but hopes to see even more people coming out to games.